Let Your Light Shine Before Men

Matthew 5

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Clemson University is less than 30 miles away from my house.  The people I go to church with are Clemson fans. The people I work with are Clemson graduates.  On any given day at school, half of my students could be wearing Clemson hoodies, shirts, or lanyards.  For the most part, the people of Upstate South Carolina bleed orange, accessorize in purple, and decorate with tiger print.  I know no matter where you live, there is a similar pride for a local college too, BUT your college wasn’t in the NCAA Football National Championship game (well, unless it’s Bama).

Now, it seems like I’m rubbing it in.  I’m not. My loyalties lie elsewhere, to the rival and unfortunate underdog, South Carolina; however, I do admire the fandom of many of the people I call my friends.  It did not surprise me on Monday night when I logged onto social media that orange was the color of the evening. I saw post after post after post about Clemson’s domination and victory in the National Championship game (sorry, Bama fans).  These people simply could not help themselves because there was something praiseworthy to talk about and they felt like they HAD to share. Although the rivalry and redundancy made me slightly disturbed, there was saving grace in many of these posts.  So many of my friends not only shared news about the victory, but also shared the words of wisdom and faith given by Dabo Swinney, the coach of Clemson, and the players from both sides, who used this moment as an opportunity to let Jesus Christ shine before men, sharing their faith with the cameras rolling.

In today’s reading, Matthew Chapter 5, there is an overwhelming amount of wisdom to take in as we begin the Sermon on the Mount which spans three chapters.  You could easily spend weeks studying the dissertation of Jesus in these chapters alone. To help give focus to this rich reading, so many of Jesus’ words today focus on changing the source of our actions, moving from a mindset that focuses on religious practice to a mind-changing Kingdom of God focus that infects our thoughts.  Harbored hate (5:22), disharmony with a brother or sister in Christ (5:24), looking lustfully (5:28), emphatic swearing (5:34), and even unwillful giving (5:40) become explicitly stated intentions of God’s Law. Jesus painstakingly picks at the heart because fulfillment of Law (5:17) is not in empty legalistic work, but in the motive that navigates these actions.  When the cameras of life are rolling, people will hear our words and see our actions, so intention and motive are not enough, BUT it is the Shining Light, the treasure hidden within the jars of clay, that will ultimately show the surpassing power, hope, and beauty that comes from God’s desire in our hearts (2 Cor 4:7). If we can simply love God and love others (Matt 22:36-40) every Law and moment becomes an opportunity to let our light shine, showcasing works of love and the plans of our Heavenly Father for all men to see.

Sometimes there’s trouble in this execution. It is a lot easier to share a video, applaud someone else’s effort for Christ, and feel like we have done our duty. That is simply not enough.  This is in NO WAY to slight Clemson fans. Or Bama fans. Or football fans. As a South Carolina fan, I am no fan’s judge, and as a sinner, I am no man’s judge. This is simply to mindfully consider the way we “share” our Christian faith in our time and culture.  How are we showing Jesus Christ in our lives to shine before mankind? Are we constantly placing our light on a lampstand where it fills and consumes our actions and the people around us? Or are we conveniently hiding our light under a basket until it becomes easier, safer, or more opportunistic to share? I applaud Dabo, and Trevor, and Tua for sharing their faith, and it inspires me to do the same, but there must be a light shining in OUR hearts that is driving OUR actions.  We are called to reach the dark corners of our place and time, where the voice of Jesus and Dabo do not reach (Acts 1:8) or where they are simply treated as white noise until the fulfillment of the Law is felt with all-consuming actions by us who carry the same message of hope.

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We must stop being complacent “sharers” of our faith.  It is time to get out your light and dust it off; to become deliberate and vulnerable with your faith, transforming your mind (Rom 12:1,2); to place it where any man, woman, or child who crosses your path will see your actions; and then watch the glory of God as it fills up your life and the lives of those around you.

-Aaron Winner

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